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Bierman v. Dayton

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 14, 2018

Teresa Bierman; Kathy Borgerding; Linda Brickley; Carmen Gretton; Beverly Ofstie; Scott Price; Tammy Tankersley; Kim Woehl; Karen Yust, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
Governor Mark Dayton, in His Official Capacity as Governor of the State of Minnesota; Josh Tilsen, in His Official Capacity as Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services; Emily Johnson Piper, in Her Official Capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services[1]; SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, Defendants - Appellees.

          Submitted: February 14, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, MURPHY and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges. [*]


         In 2013, Minnesota enacted a statute that extended the state's Public Employment Labor Relations Act ("PELRA") to persons who provide in-home care to disabled Medicaid recipients. See Individual Providers of Direct Support Services Representation Act, ch. 128, art. 2, 2013 Minn. Laws 2173 (codified as amended at Minn. Stat. §§ 179A.54, 256B.0711). PELRA authorizes covered employees to organize and to designate by majority vote an exclusive representative to negotiate employment terms with the state. Minn. Stat. § 179A.06, subdiv. 2.

         A group of parents who provide homecare services to their disabled children sued several state officials and a union, alleging that the 2013 Act violates the homecare providers' freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They complain that the Act unconstitutionally compels them to associate with the exclusive negotiating representative. The district court, [2] relying on Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984), determined that the 2013 Act does not infringe on the providers' First Amendment rights. We agree with the application of Knight, and therefore affirm the judgment for the defendants.


         PELRA allows public employees to organize by selecting an exclusive representative to "meet and confer" and "meet and negotiate" with the State regarding terms and conditions of employment. Minn. Stat. §§ 179A.06, 179A.07. If public employees select a representative, then the state employer must confer and negotiate exclusively with the representative union. Id. § 179A.07, subdivs. 2-3. Employees, however, need not join the union, id. § 179A.06, subdiv. 2, and they remain free to communicate with the State independent of the exclusive representative, so long as their activity "is not designed to and does not interfere with the full faithful and proper performance of the duties of employment or circumvent the rights of the exclusive representative." Id. § 179A.06, subdiv. 1.

         In 2013, Minnesota extended PELRA to apply to those who provide in-home care to Medicaid recipients. Ch. 128, art. 2, 2013 Minn. Laws at 2173-78. Under the 2013 Act, Minnesota considers homecare providers to be public employees solely for purposes of PELRA. Minn. Stat. § 179A.54, subdiv. 2. The Act specifies, however, that no agreement reached between the State and the exclusive representative may interfere with certain rights of the Medicaid recipients-namely, "to select, hire, direct, supervise, and terminate the employment of their individual providers; to manage an individual service budget regarding the amounts and types of authorized goods or services received; or to receive direct support services from individual providers not referred to them through a state registry." Id. § 179A.54, subdiv. 4.

         In June 2014, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota presented the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services with over 9, 000 signed union authorization cards from Minnesota homecare providers requesting that SEIU serve as their exclusive representative. These homecare providers then collectively submitted an official election petition. SEIU agreed that it would not seek mandatory fees from providers who did not join the union.

         After receiving notice of the upcoming election, the plaintiff homecare providers sued the Governor, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services, and the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, in their official capacities, and SEIU. They sought to enjoin Minnesota from conducting the election and certifying SEIU as their exclusive representative. The providers alleged that if Minnesota conducted the election and recognized SEIU as the exclusive representative, the State would violate their right not to associate under the First Amendment. The district court refused to enjoin the election, and the vote selected SEIU as the exclusive representative. The court then granted judgment on the pleadings for the defendants on the providers' First Amendment claim.


         The state defendants contend that there is no case or controversy before us, because the providers lack standing to sue. They argue that the homecare providers have not alleged a concrete injury in fact that satisfies the minimum requirements of Article III. The district court thought the State's argument impermissibly conflated standing analysis with the merits of the claim and concluded that the providers had standing. The court apparently reasoned that the fact that SEIU was certified as the exclusive representative for the homecare providers was a sufficient injury in fact.

         Article III standing requires the homecare providers to establish that they have "(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016). To establish injury in fact, the homecare providers must show that they have suffered a concrete and ...

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